April 26, 2012

Increase in School Psychologists to Help DCPS Better Serve Students 

Shift to new staffing model begins 2012-2013 school year

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In an effort to better serve special and general education students throughout the city, DCPS will shift to a new staffing model for the 2012-2013 school year that better utilizes the expertise of school psychologists.

The change will allow schools to improve student achievement and engagement by leveraging the skills of school psychologists to build a student support network that collects data, identifies students at risk for poor academic or behavioral outcomes, provides evidence-based interventions, and monitors student progress.

School psychologists assess students’ cognitive abilities (IQ) and their current academic achievement. Given their training in these assessments, combined with data-driven decision-making and intervention planning, school psychologists possess a unique skill set that will allow them to provide and coordinate supports for both general and special education students.  

“The knowledge, skills and expertise that school psychologists bring to the job will ensure that students, regardless of whether or not they have been identified as needing special education services, can receive support,” said Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

DCPS based its model on the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Model for Comprehensive and Integrated School Psychological Services, which supports Responses to Intervention (RTI), an integrated, data-based approach to identifying and supporting students who need specialized supports. NASP identifies school psychologists as critical partners to implementing RTI in schools.

Currently, surrounding school jurisdictions, such as Prince George’s, Montgomery, Fairfax, Baltimore and Howard counties, mandate participation by the school psychologists in the pre-referral process as do school districts across the nation.

“As DCPS continues to improve the quality of special education, we must implement national best practices to optimize supports provided to our students.” said Nathaniel Beers, Chief of Special Education. “School psychologists will ensure that special education is better aligned with other interventions provided to students so that they can succeed academically.”

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